Encyclopedia, atlases, magazines, old textbooks, non-fiction and fiction books have been my companions as long as I can remember. As a boy, I enjoyed the contents of my toybox as much as any kid, but I’d usually gravitate towards some sort of book during my nonstructured moments.
There were some learning toys that dovetailed with some of my reading. I remember dad bought me a junior electrician’s circuit board. I played with basic circuitry like parallel and series circuits, buzzers, constructing a rudimentary motor, etc. to run on lantern battery power. One year I inherited a vintage microscope set from my paternal grandfather. I had plenty of fun exploring the smallest parts of the plant and animal worlds.
Another time, a birthday gift was a radiometer…four small square sheetmetal parts mounted on a rotor balanced on a glass capstan all enclosed inside a vacuum sealed bulb. When placed in light, the rotor mechinism spun around.
The one gift that foretold my career arrived one Christmas. A small reel to reel tape recorder. It came with three-inch reels of audio tape and a separate microphone. I couldn’t experiment enough with the thing. My future in radio was a done deal.
Of course, those toys and my old faithful reading materials supplemented my formal grade school training. What happens when all of your schooling is completed? Well, my pursuit of knowledge never did end with graduations. Some people just end their search and coast through life. Others know they should engage continuing education of some sort but lack either curiosity or drive. I will admit that I simply do not understand why anybody on earth would not wish for continuing education. This is not an elitist point of view. This is a complete bafflement to me.
Perhaps it is complacency? Maybe an overwhelming desire for the illusion of security? Could it just be a lack of curiosity? Even at the risk of seeming like a dilletante or simply overly curious, the urge to find out about things has defined much of my lifestyle. That means, without conscious intent, my education has never ended.
I like to keep a nice stash of ink and paper books on hand. I admit that I read them less these days because I find so much educational material on the web. Still, when push comes to shove, a real, honest to goodness book just can’t be beat. For instance, there is no shortage of opinions about what and what not is taught in the Koran (Quran). It would be easy to just go along with whatever opinion agrees with my preconceived notions. My first instinct, though is to read it first hand. I found an acceptable English translation, then set aside time and read it cover to cover. I keep it handy as a reference book.
The same with mathematics. There’s something inherently scary and powerful about numbers as a tool beyond mere arithmetic. That fact is obvious, you wouldn’t be reading this blog were it not for advanced math.
Practical solutions can be found readily in paper and ink. The shop manual for my car is a valuable tool. Even if I don’t perform the more complicated repairs and maintenance on my car, I can at least know how and what to explain to my mechanic. Priceless! By the way, this doesn’t come inside the glovebox when you buy your car. You must purchase it separately from a book seller.
Often, a book is a luxurious, sensual pleasure. No, not porn! Archaeology is one of my guilty pleasures. Be it about ancient Amerindian culture, Ancient Egypt, India, China or Mesopotamia, I can’t get enough. The fine photography book about the artifacts found in the tomb of Tutankhamun is filled with incredible essays along with the amazing illustrations of the treasures.
There are times that I want the author to read me a book. My addiction to audiobooks is almost infamous. There are times when hearing the inflections and stresses of spoken words brings out the intent of the author better than simply reading the text will do.
A good reality check is Michael R. LeGault’s *Think–Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made In The Blink Of An Eye*.
If you have even a slight fascination about the inner workings of the ancient Roman Empire, you might thoroughly enjoy listening to Robert Harris’ historical novel *Pompeii*. I’ve listened to it three times, simply because it’s delightful and riveting. Better yet, I became immersed in the culture and mores of those times. In fact, I think I’m going to set aside some time for another hearing of the book.
Another wonderful and free source of knowledge is the documentary film or series that can be found on DVD format in the public library. I simply don’t watch television. I don’t have the time for it. Instead, I find superb quality programming that I can just play on my computer or teevee set. I finished viewing the *Civil War Journal* last night, for the second time. (Yes, I play my own versions of reruns.)
I’m especially looking forward to watching *Inside Islam*. I need to do that before it’s due back at the library on Wednesday!
Oh yeah! One more educational tool is the bluejayblog. This is a good way for me to focus on a subject and research it if needed. You can be a part of continuing education (and a real pal) if you make the tiny effort of clicking the rating stars at the end of each post that you read. Even better, once in awhile, you can tap out one or two short comments and suggestions so I can have an idea as to how this part of my education is progressing or not.
The Blue Jay of Happiness believes that knowledge is a very powerful tool to use for life.